Reprinted from ReadyAimLife
by The Howitzer
It’s funny that the old fat guy at RAL would write the vision piece about fitness. Normally, any article related to health is assigned to the person who has it all together and loves to put their picture up or someone who tells the before and after story of their walk from obesity to sleekness. Looking at me now, you would never guess that at one time I was a stud. (Laughter erupts from the cheap seats). Well maybe I am stretching the truth a bit when I say stud, but there is no doubt that at one time I was in really good shape. I played some kind of sport year round and was able to compete at a pretty high level of athletics. As I have said many times I have lived my life like I played high school football: a little better than average. I was good enough to stay a step or two ahead of the bench but Alabama never called my number.
In this article, I want to take you young bucks down my memory lane and give you some thoughts about how to avoid getting to your late 40s and wonder where it all went (or worst yet look down and see where it all went). Or if you have already eclipsed the 40-year-old barrier, I would like to give you some thoughts that may help you move on through. There has been almost 30 years that have elapsed from my senior football picture and my baseball-coaching picture this summer. Man what a difference! The only thing those guys have in common is they are both kneeling. I want to identify some specific things that I think have been critical in moving me from a stud to a dud. These 4 areas have crept up on me and they continue to be a de-motivating factor in me moving from FATness to FITness. They have not won yet but if I am not careful I will become a victim of STUD syndrome. This is a made-up-disease that attacks most middle age men and threatens to keep them captive in an aging body with no way of escape. Let me share the symptoms with you.
S- Selective Memory. One of my biggest weaknesses is remembering the good ole days. I may be 47 but I still think of myself as 17. Being an optimist at heart, I feel like that I can turn it around anytime I want and get back to being as in shape as I once was. My mind tends to capture pictures of myself that showcase my sleekness verses my slide. My unwillingness at times to focus on my present day snapshot but rather to look to yesterday’s glamour shot makes me subject to being a prisoner of the past. I need to make new memories. I need to take new photos. I must move past my selective memories of yesteryear and look at my present reality. YESTERDAY IS HISTORY, TOMMORROW IS A MYSTERY, TODAY IS A GIFT THAT IS WHY THEY CALL IT THE PRESENT. I need to make the most of today!
T- Time Disregard. When you are young, time is a commodity that you have a lot of. When you get older it becomes more precious. If you disregard using your time wisely related to your health you will pay a high price. Time and your health are a lot like time and your money. I heard someone say one time that the eighth wonder of the world is compounding interest. Said simply, money grows slowly over time if you have it invested properly. Unfortunately, so does your waistline. Let me illustrate. For years, I have watched my weight increase ever so slightly over a period of a year. I normally weigh at the first of each year and it is not uncommon to gain a couple of pound over the course of that year (with a few exception of losses and a few big gainers). That doesn’t sound too bad: 2 pounds over a whole year! Where that logic breaks down is that 2 pound a year adds up 20 pounds in a decade. 40 pounds over two decades. And like me 30 years multiplied by an average of 2 pounds gained per year make me overweight by 60 pounds at age 47. I played football my senior year at 185 pounds and this morning I weighed in at 248 pounds. If you disregard the time you have been given, the slow fade of your physique will be your reward. But, even more than looking bad you will feel even worse and you risk all kinds of illness that can cut your time short with your family.
U- Understanding Health Issues. The averaging illustration of gaining weight over time sounds better in that I am not going overboard and just losing the war barely. The reality has been for me that my weight has increased slightly at times and has lurched forward at other times. The same can be said about my level of fitness in the reverse. I have declined a little at a time and have lurched backwards in my fitness over the years. I am no doctor and make no claims to understand how the body works, but I do know that there have been seasons where I have been focused on keeping myself in shape and have experienced some serious setbacks. As I have aged I can look back at least 3 seasons where I experienced some metabolism changes and did not recognize or understand what was going on. I was continuing to exercise the patterns of earlier days even though my body was changing. I was in my mid 30s and bemoaning to a friend that I was eating pretty good and exercising a fair amount but gaining weight. He told me I was probably just experiencing age related changes and I needed to make some adjustments. The hard part about making adjustments in the middle of new life cycle is that unless you are studying health concerns related to your age, you don’t know what is going on. I know for me that I have done a poor job of understanding what changes I need to make.
D- Discipline Problems. As I was preparing to write this article, one of the areas I evaluated in myself was in the area of discipline. I am shocked sometime by the difference in my level of discipline now and when I was a kid. As I pondered that I realized that the main difference for me is in the area of practice. When I was younger, we practiced a lot and played some games. Now I still may play games but never practice. Take softball for example; the reason so many old guys get injured playing softball is that they work their jobs all week and then rush out to the fields, barely stretch and play all out going from zero to sixty in 2.7 seconds (well zero to twenty in my case). No wonder I have pulled every muscle in my lower extremities. Practice is the ongoing exercise of preparation toward a goal that keeps you moving in the direction that helps you achieve a goal. I can’t imagine what my high school football experience would have been like if we just showed up at the stadium on Friday night and started working on a game plan. As I have gotten older another area I have missed is a very specific goal I am working toward. Staying in shape is way too vague of a goal and way too subjective. The only reason I ran in the summers before football was that I knew that if I didn’t get in shape before two-a-days I would die and I wouldn’t play. I had a goal. A specific goal lends itself to execution (or at least evaluation). WE NEED SOMETHING TO WORK TOWARD. This summer my goal is to walk 100 miles before my son goes back to school. I have knocked out 10 with 90 to go.
The difference between being FAT and being FIT is one letter- the letter I. I will make new memories! I will make time work for me! I will grow in my understanding of how my health changes over time. I will exercise some discipline! Over time we will get some guys in here to write articles on how to do it right. But for now take it from someone 30 years down the path: health is a terrible thing to waste. I will give you an update over time as I work toward getting back to my high school playing weight. That is my new goal as a result of this article. I am headed west, one hundred eighty five pounds or bust. You can quote me on that! Maybe this time next year, I will take another snapshop.